Two days ago we released Gowalla 4 for all of our friends around the world. For those keeping score at home, the last 24-hours have been a bit rough for some of you, and we’ve been following the dialog in the comment feeds, on Twitter, etc. I’ve personally been trying to reply to as many of you as possible on the Twitters. Sadly, I’ve missed a bunch, and I’m still trying to juggle catching up on some sleep from the past week!
But… all that said, most of the critical feedback seems to be falling down a couple paths. So I wanted to dive into the major ones, one at a time.
The first 4.0 release contained a bug that was causing Gowalla to crash on load for iOS 4.2 users. Which basically meant everyone on Verizon was getting screwed. Totally sucks. We feel horrible for missing this one, and we’re sad it slipped through. It has been fixed, and the current 4.0.1 available in the iTunes store is working for 4.2 users now.
Unfortunately there is also another, similar bug, that is causing Gowalla to crash on load for a much smaller percentage of iOS 4.3 and 5.0 beta users. Inasmuch as these are the same versions of the OS we use ourselves, we’re having difficulty isolating this issue. Gratefully it’s effecting a much smaller number of you, but this is currently our number one priority. I think we’ve got a fix on it, and a 4.0.2 should be whisking its way to you shortly.
Of course, with any new app there’s going to be a few other errant crashes, but the two above have been our headaches, and the rest we should squash in the next couple of weeks.
WTF, Where Are My Spots?! My stamps?!
Many of you have noted that you’re having difficulty browsing nearby spots to see what’s cool closely, regardless of whether or not your within one of our city guides. That’s what we designed our “Nearby Guide” for. It’s located right above the Postcards for the featured guides close to you.
Sadly, somehow right before release, we removed the ability to actually browse those nearby spots, and it simply shows you 20 or so high profile spots with no way to browse by category, search or simply see what looks good around the corner.
It actually works really well on Gowalla for Android. But since about 65 percent of our users are iPhone users and many of you live outside our guide cites, you’re getting a crappy experience right now. This is our number two issue after the crashes above. You can expect a fix shortly, and we sincerely apologize for the hiccup here.
For many of our beloved street team, you’ve added and curated millions of spots for us around the world. Don’t worry. They’re not gone. And you’re still credited! They’re just not showing up as intended. Again, ride with us for a few days and we’ll have this remedied.
For those looking for your Stamps, they’re under the About section on your Passport. Full pagination and a Total Count number will be added back soon.
Where Are My Items?!
Last month we announced that we would be removing items from Gowalla with this release. It’s a bittersweet decision for us, but as you’ll note from this blog post, only about 2 percent of our active users engage with the feature, with only about half a percent of you engaging with it on a regular (i.e., weekly) basis. While we loved the feature, it was a complicated one to maintain given the relative lack of use.
That said, we knew this would be a big change for some of our most passionate fans. And we’ve certainly heard from you over the last 48 hours.
In the next couple of weeks we’re going to provide you all with a creative way to download or otherwise, uh, how do I say this without giving it away… Remember your collection of items from Gowalla.
I know that many of you will still not like this decision. It was a difficult one for us to make, given the circumstances.
How On Earth Do I Check In?!
Okay, so this is a fun one. Check-ins are basically gone. In many ways they’ve now been replaced by your Stories feed. We realize the user interface for created a new story is still a little bit jarring if you’re used to checking in. Tapping New Story asks you where you are, who you’re with, and then makes it easy to quickly add photos to your story.
Two big complaints we’ve heard are:
1) You don’t like that it takes an extra step to push to Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, etc.
2) You don’t know if it worked when you created a new story.
We hear you loud and clear, and we’re working to make this flow a little bit cleaner. This is priority three for us now. The move from check-ins to stories is definitely a shift for us, but once you get the hang of it, capturing an awesome event like this one at Oakland’s Real Eats Festival is pretty magical.
Gowalla Committed Startup Suicide!
This has been a week filled with crazy bold moves by some of the world’s most loved tech companies. Netflix spun out their DVD business. Facebook re-invented their profile pages (again!). Instagram also launched a very bold 2.0 product.
With this update to Gowalla, we wanted to create something boldly remarkable that moved our vision of social and location aware services forward. We knew we wouldn’t get everything right out of the gate, but we wanted to get it out the door so people could begin playing with it.
Some have asked why certain parts of the app aren’t quite as polished as Gowalla 3 was.
Well, we could have spent another 4 weeks polishing the rough visual edges only to launch and find out that the app crashes on Verizon iPhones… that people can’t find nearby places, or their stamps, or their items… or that our flow for adding new stories still needs some improvement (apart from visual flourish).
In short, we’d been developing in secret long enough. It was time to get it live and have you help us put the shine on this vision together.
My hope is that you can squint a little through the pain of losing a version of Gowalla that many of you loved in order to see something truly unique and remarkable that we can build together now.
Yesterday I started taking questions from our community on Formspring and over the next week or so I’m going to do my best to answer them all to the best of my ability. Feel free to ask away. With your help, in about 2-3 weeks, we should be smooth sailing with Gowalla 4. Thanks again for your passion for our product. We couldn’t do this without you.